Birthdays are a time of celebration. Some celebrate it through parties, others through experiences and some by reflection. I like to alternate through these three for my birthday and those of my children. One year we may have a big party, the other year a family experience and another something different. I feel a birthday can be celebrated in many ways and just like all things in life, having a balance and remembering those less fortunate than us, brings more joy and meaningfulness in birthdays. If you feel like having a big party for your birthday, by all means, enjoy and make the most of it! But if one year you feel like having a more “giving” birthday, here are some ideas.
By teaching young children the importance of giving we can plant the seeds of empathy, generosity and humanity in them from an early age. There are many opportunities to teach these lessons and an important one is the annual birthday party! You don’t need to have a “giving” birthday every year. Don’t deny your child the joy of gifts. However one year you can choose to have a “giving” theme and discuss the benefits with your child. One who learns the joy of “giving” stays eternally rich.
1. A 50/50 Birthday Party
I love 50/50 birthdays because God knows our children have way too many toys already and don’t need more on their birthday! The concept of this birthday is simple: guests are asked that no gift is required but if they do feel like it, they can bring any cash amount they are comfortable with. The birthday child will donate half of the total amount collected to a charity of his/her choice and from the other half buy one gift.
Keep a box so that guests can add cash to it if they feel like it and you don’t have to know who gave how much. Discuss with the birthday child what cause is close to their heart and choose a charity accordingly. This birthday not only teaches the birthday child the importance of giving but they can also buy one gift of their choice from the rest of the money, so everyone is happy! win win.
This birthday is great for children 3 – 15 years old, because they are old enough to understand the concept of giving and excited about getting gifts on their birthday.
2. volunteering time
Instead of a birthday party volunteer time together at a local charity. You can contact the charity before hand and ask them what services they would need. Most desperately need volunteers and would be happy to get a group of motivated volunteered for many tasks such as: sorting donations, cleaning up, serving meals, painting a room etc. Set a time for the guests to arrive, have the list of tasks ready, and designate a couple of hours with a goal in mind. After everyone is done, head over to a restaurant or to home to have cake and pizza!
My friend had such a party for her daughter’s first birthday and I loved the idea! All of us had a great time chatting and sorting clothing donations for a local charity. It felt great to help out plus we had a great time! From every family one parent stayed behind with the children at home while the other volunteered and all of us got together for the cake cutting. If children are slightly older, they can join in and help out!
This birthday idea is great either for very young children (1 – 2) who don’t really understand the concept of birthdays anyways and will be happy to make a brief appearance for the cake cutting or for teenagers and adults.
3. Gift Packs for the Needy
Instead of gifts, ask your friends to bring gift packs for a cause you choose. This can be an orphanage, a charity hospital for children or an old people’s home. Make sure you let your guests know about the charity before hand so that they can choose gifts accordingly.
A local charity in Calgary called “The Happy Birthday Project” helps children from needy families celebrate birthdays and you can always ask guests to bring birthday gifts for another needy birthday boy or girl.
This birthday is great for all ages. Include children in the process of choosing the cause if they are old enough.
4. Share the Celebration
Take our birthday celebration to an orphanage, old people’s home or a homeless shelter and watch your own joy multiply as you share cake, treats, gifts and a great meal. Celebrate with people who have their birthdays in the same month/week and have a memorable day!
This idea is also appropriate for all ages but best done for children 7+.
Hope you liked these ideas and have a wonderful birthday this year!
Photo credits: Rida Rehmani